Have you ever seen 30 fifth graders begging to start an assignment??? That's exactly what's happening in our school this week. How you say?? Here's a quick run down.....
Kids love to read about interesting current events and argue their opinion on the topic. They also love to debate their opinion with their classmates. For real, they really do! Kids are natural arguers. And nothing feels better than arguing a point and persuading someone else to take your side. (Usually adults are shutting kids' opinions down so the chance to voice it and receive validation feels great to a kid.) What else feels great to a kid? Writing about their argument to someone important or famous.
That's all we're doing. Simply letting kids read, take notes, form opinions, argue those opinions using the text for support, and write about those opinions to someone who cares. Nothing expensive, no fancy programs, just authentic literacy experiences.
How does it work? My kids read an article this week about Mars. I set up the debate by asking the students to form an opinion on the following: Does exploring Mars benefit the people of Earth in any way? Should the U.S. government continue to send money to NASA to support exploring Mars? I taught a few necessary vocabulary words (using the Marzano approach), we read the article closely and took notes, they wrote down their opinions and discussed them with partners, we debated the opinions (this is the best part), and then we wrote letters to NASA arguing our opinions. My kids couldn't wait to write those letters today. Several of them actually wrote their own addresses in the letters hoping someone from NASA will write back to validate their argument. They wrote so quietly and intently, I wasn't sure what to do with myself. LOL
Now does anyone know NASA's address so I can mail these letters out? LOL, guess I better get looking online......
If you're interested in exposing your students to authentic literacy experiences during reading and writing workshops, check out my helpful guide HERE.
Whew, and now I'm ready for Friday. Who's with me?